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Bruins injury updates: Some returns, and the mystery continues with Charlie McAvoy

There’s “upper body,” and then there’s “we have absolutely no idea what’s going on.”

Boston Bruins v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Bruins are in the middle of a rare early-season stretch of days off, which has given certain guys plenty of time to rest and recover from injuries. For some, a return to game action is imminent; for others, the timeline is murky.

David Backes is the closest to returning to the ice, as he’s expected to be in the lineup Saturday night against the Nashville Predators.

Backes spoke to the media Thursday and gave every indication that he’ll be back this weekend:

Throw in the fact that the Bruins sent Ryan Donato down to Providence, and there’s clearly a spot in the lineup for Backes. Barring a setback between this morning and Saturday night, he should be ready to go in Nashville.

Per Bruce Cassidy at his assembled media availability on Thursday (shared on Bruins Twitter), Matt Grzelcyk is getting close but is questionable for Saturday. I’d expect him to sit out again, unless he has a great practice today.

From there, things get a little more murky.

Per the Bruins’ website, Urho Vaakanainen still isn’t skating, but is working out. Given that his injury is a concussion, he’ll be given all the time he needs. Don’t expect to see him for quite a while.

Then there’s Charlie McAvoy, who is suffering from an injury that has been shrouded in Bill Belichick-esque levels of secrecy. No one seems to really know what’s going on with McAvoy, and because the injury wasn’t discovered until well after it occurred, it’s hard to even go back and speculate.

The team has termed it an upper-body injury, which could be a shoulder, could be a concussion, could be an ear infection, could be a canker sore...your guess is as good as any.

The problem, of course, is that “upper-body” with McAvoy immediately brings “heart” to mind, and “upper-body” in general has been used to cover concussions in the past.

At this point, it sounds more and more like McAvoy may have suffered a concussion, but the team’s general handling of it has been bizarre, to say the least.

Take it from Cassidy, at the same media availability mentioned above:

“I didn’t know when it first happened...we had no idea. We still don’t, to a certain extent. Yeah, there’s a bit of concern...hopefully whatever it is turns the corner sooner rather than later, for his sake and ours.”

Uhhhh...there’s a lot to unpack there.

The team:

  1. Didn’t know what the injury was when it first happened (OK, that happens from time to time in a fast-paced game)
  2. Still doesn’t know what it is, “to a certain extent” (Uh...what?)
  3. There’s a bit of concern (Oh great)
  4. Hopefully “whatever it is” turns the corner soon (Yikes)

Again, it’s fine to not come out and say “yeah, he pulled XYZ muscle and will be out 3-5 weeks.” Some secrecy is to be expected.

But to cover the whole thing in this much mystery only increases speculation, and for Cassidy to imply that the team still doesn’t really know what’s wrong with the kid is troubling, to say the least.

McAvoy, for his part, has been present at practices and putting on his Blades of Glory to celebrate Halloween, signs that what he’s dealing with are “hockey serious” and not “life serious.”

Still, to hear Cassidy speak about a mysterious ailments and mention quality of life for a 20-year-old kid is alarming.

Hopefully McAvoy is back on the ice, to quote Cassidy, “sooner rather than later” so all the speculation can be put to rest.